Tutorial – Celtic Knot #2

Posted on May 16, 2007


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Looking at my stats on Typepad (just as addicting as ego surfing), I’ve noticed that the first Celtic Knot tutorial that I did is by far the post with the most visits.   Because of that, I had been wanting to post another tutorial.  Then I had someone ask for help and I figured now was the time.

This tutorial will be similar to the last one just because it’s the same method.  This knot is a lot more complex than the first one I did.  I also added color to have the pattern pop out more.  I’m hoping this shows you how limitless the possibilities are.  The picture above is the finished project.  You will find that this knot is not perfect.  You can see small errors where the pen got away from me or ink from the markers bled to another section.  These are things that I can live with.  With practice (I’m still practicing) these will become few and far between.  I think these imperfections add character to the piece. 

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The supplies you will need are few.  You will need a pencil with a good eraser (I prefer mechanical pencils to get a consistent line),  ruler (I used a quilt square ruler), fine tipped pen (sharpies work well, but they can bleed a bit) and dot paper.  You can download this graph paper program which will supply you with oodles of free graph and dot paper.  Scroll to the bottom of the web-site and pick the very last option
called Graph Paper Printer Program Version 4.21 created by Phillipe
Marquis.  Once this small program is downloaded to your computer, you can make graph and dot paper forever.  I have looked at other graph paper sites on the internet and this is still by far the best one out there.   That’s it; that’s all you need to  get started.

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I’m using paper that has dots 10mm by 10mm.  This is a great size to learn on.  Personally, I usually use dot paper that is 5mm by 5mm.  The person who emailed me for help wanted to know how to create a knot that is 14 dots by 14 dots, so that is what I’m using as my example.  Let’s begin. 

  • Draw a square that is 14 dots by 14 dots. 

Easy enough, right?  It really doesn’t get much harder than this.

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All the character of your knot will come from the divider lines.  The more lines, the more complex your knot will be; which makes it more eye catching.  There is only 1 rule: No diagonal lines.   You can have lines butt up against the borders, blocking off sections, and as long or as little as you’d like.  Again the possibilities are endless.  I will usually sit with the square for a bit before adding lines.  I add a few, wait and then add more.  I tend to be a very symmetrical person.  You can branch out and try all kinds of different things with your divider lines.

  • Draw divider lines.
  • Do not draw diagonal lines.

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Next you will put a dot in the middle of each 4 dotted square.  This
will turn your big squares into smaller diamonds.  I’ve tried to find
dot paper that does this for me (yes, I’m that lazy), but all that I could
find made the diamonds very oblong and not suitable for Celtic Knots. 
Dots will only go in the center of complete squares.  If you have a 3
dotted triangle, no dot is needed.  You can add these dots before
adding divider lines.  I almost always do this after the divider lines
because there will be less dots to create.  I eyeball my dots.  The
more precise your dots are, the more precise your knot will be.

  • Add a dot to the middle of each 4 dotted square.

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Now you are ready to draw the lines that will form your knot.  Start by picking any diamond.  Draw two parallel lines just inside the dots.  (The closer the lines are to each other, the narrower your knot will be.  There is no harm in this.  If that’s the look you are going for, great.  Just stay consistent.)  You will draw two parallel lines in every single diamond.  The key to this is that your parallel lines will go in the same direction in every OTHER diamond.  I usually draw all the parallel lines that go in one direction all at the same time.  Then I turn the page and add parallel lines going the opposite direction.  The end goal is to create a cross hatch pattern.  You will not put anything in the 3 dotted triangles.

  • Add two parallel lines in each 4 dotted diamond.

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  • Create a cross hatch pattern by rotating the direction of your lines.

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Next you will draw your knot by simply connecting all the lines.  The picture above shows this step about 3/4′s of the way done.  Looking at the lines that still need to be connected, you can get a sense of how they will be drawn.  Remember with Celtic Knots all lines go over and under.  You have a problem if you have two overs together or two unders together.  This usually means there is an error with your cross hatch pattern.  The beauty of using pencil is that it’s easy to fix these sort of small problems.  When you come to a divider line or a border line, your knot will need to turn.  The outside line of the curve will remain straight and it will butt up against the divider or border line.  The inside line of the curve will turn to connect with the line that is waiting for it.  Your turn will be at a 90 degree or a 180 degree angle.  Your turns can be nice square angles or natural curves.  (For this piece I tried to stay with square 45 degree angles.  The 180 degree turns are very curved.)  The dead space between the lines of the knot should form little squares.  The nice thing about connecting all the lines in the knot after completing the cross hatch pattern is that you’ve already done all the work.  You are just connecting all the pieces.  There is no guess work involved at all.

  • Using the cross hatch pattern as your guide draw in all the lines and turns of the knot.
  • Remember the pattern always goes over, under, over, etc.

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Looking at my design, I decided to make the small individual loops blue to help those areas stand out.  You can keep this black and white if you prefer.  I outlined all of the other lines in black.  This is where you can fix lines that weren’t drawn straight.  You want the knot to appear to be continuous, so try to draw your lines as uniformly as you can. 

  • Outline your knot in ink.
  • Make lines as uniformly as possible.

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Now that the knot has been completely outlined, erase all pencil marks.  I always find spots that I missed outlining when I erase the pencil.  Simply add in any missing lines.

  • Erase pencil lines.
  • Add lines missed in the outlining process.

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Fill in all of the dead space around the knot.  This will create the contrast to make your knot stand out.  It will also hide all the dots on your paper.  This is a great activity to do when watching a movie.  It’s pretty mindless filling in all of the little squares.  You can leave the knot as is and be done.  You can color in a few of the intertwining knots as I did in the very top picture.  Since all the dots are now covered, you can cut this knot out and frame it, make a card, etc. 

  • Fill in all dead space around the knot.

Here is the list of bulleted items from above that you can use as an instructional cheat sheet. 

  • Draw a square that is 14 dots by 14 dots.
  • Draw divider lines.
  • Do not draw diagonal lines.
  • Add two parallel lines in each 4 dotted diamond.
  • Create a cross hatch pattern by rotating the direction of your lines.
  • Using the cross hatch pattern as your guide draw in all the lines and curves of the knot.
  • Remember the pattern always goes over, under, over, etc.
  • Outline your knot in ink.
  • Make lines as uniformly as possible.
  • Erase pencils lines.
  • Add lines missed in the outlining process.
  • Fill in all dead space around the knot.

Thus concludes this tutorial on drawing a Celtic Knot.  I would love to hear feedback from you.  Send me a photo of your knot.  What worked and what didn’t?  Did additional questions/problems come up?  You can take these instructions and create a knot of any shape or size.  It doesn’t have to be a square.  By changing where you put your divider lines, the pattern of your knot will change.  Try it out and have fun!

2 Comments

  1. I tried to read this, and my mind got blown about 4 steps in. This proves that you are the most patient, craftiest person ever!

    Post a Reply
  2. wow! that looks so complicated. maybe if i read it a few times i’ll get it. thanks for the help though, i can’t find anywhere else to tell me how to draw them

    Post a Reply

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